2023 Season Re-Crap


Yeah, wow…2023 was undoubtedly the toughest year for fishing conditions we’ve had in our 25 season existence. That’s right, Trophy Trout Outfitters that operates as North Platte Lodge, The Reef Fly Shop and Pathfinder Outfitters ( our big game hunting operation)  should have been tooting our horn for our 25th season throughout 2023. But we didn’t. More on that in a bit.

Back to the ’23 Grey Reef and Miracle Mile story. The winter of ’22/’23 was pretty good for moisture it just came in weird spurts. In central Wyoming we get a good bit of our water late in the spring. Those late dumps of heavy wet snow in the Snowy and Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges are great. They are 100 miles upstream and above our 5 reservoir system that creates a really good buffer/supplier of trout water 365 days a year. I’m not aware of a better situation than we have, seriously, no runoff and no hoot owl. The wild card is always those heavy snows landing in the Laramie Range and bypassing those 5 reservoirs and mostly the entire 80+ miles of the Grey Reef System. Sounds great, right? Great storage upstream that settles out what most anglers consider runoff…that is, high water combined with a silt load pushing down the ditch on its own free will. And, actual runoff entering the system below our huge fishery. It’s not so simple. There are other reservoirs and a state downstream. These complicate Grey Reef water operations.

We are graced by a great program called the “flushing flows”. It is normally in late March and surges of water for ten days in a row really purge a bunch of silt from critical spawning areas in Grey Reef…it also just makes the river nicer. These aren’t scary purges and lots of folks target the flush as THE time to fish Grey Reef. Whatever. This “excess” water is captured and held in Glendo Reservoir way down stream and is waiting for the call to be sent down for irrigation in a couple months. That’s all fine and dandy until the Laramie Range gets walloped and the runoff from that storm fills Glendo at a rate the Bureau of Reclamation didn’t anticipate. The first move is to reduce flows at Grey Reef, the next nearest and controllable source of water, that takes the burden off of Glendo. Keep in mind that Nebraska doesn’t want that water shipped since they’ve also had good spring moisture or are flooding already. Keep the water as high up in the system as possible! The result of all of this over info is that Grey Reef predictably gets its flows reduced and that exposes the spawning beds to fly angler predation and other sources that basically destroy that year-class of new trout. Is losing a few year class the end of the world? No, this is very common at Grey Reef and a reduction of the trout population would be a great scenario for the quality of fish and fishing but the game and fish play the numbers game over the quality game..and that is a problem for us but maybe good for less adept anglers. Grey Reef needs increasing/higher flows throughout the spawn for recruitment. 2023 had flows reduced throughout the spawn…ok, nothing new, we can work through that. Fishing is still awesome.

Then came the storms. And they came with great consistency. It was the “false summit” scenario from May through October. Every time the river would get back in shape after a gully washer we’d feel like we were going to get to run our normal free-range program of covering tons of water at will then the next storm would hit and the lower portions of the river or roads accessing the target would blow out. Sure we’d get a week of fishing the lower reaches then two weeks of being confined to the true Grey Reef Stretch or the Mile. 20 boats piling into the after bay…it was a disgusting display. Then the hatches would get rolling just to get plowed by another round of less than ideal river conditions. The anticipation of our dry fly season starting in mid July ( not including the Golden Stones in late June – early July…that was still very good) and getting to fish a bunch more water downstream keeps guide moral high and is what many of our guest have come to love about the summer and fall program. Central Wyoming couldn’t catch a break. It was ten seasons worth of water issues dog piled on Grey Reef in ’23.

Poor us, ha! The reality is that despite the rains we had a really good season when put in perspective. Our old adage is true “a tough day here is better than a good day on most fisheries”. We always have high quality fisheries available nearby and our guides and guest made the most of them when they wanted to see something other than Upper Grey Reef or the Mile. Some awesome fish caught in places that most don’t know or wouldn’t attempt. Our many private boat ramps kept us out of the mix as much as possible and the resourcefulness of the guide crew unmatched. Our guests seemed to still have a great time, the fact that you’ve rebooked for 2024 suggests that. Thank you…THANK YOU!

Mixed emotions, self reflection, relationships dwindling and new forming all contributed to a roller coaster of a year. Celebration dialed in just a bit lower than self pity so we figured we’d wait out the season and celebrate completing 25 years. This aligns with our urgently patient approach we take every single day. Here we are slapping ourselves on the back for making it through 25 years and not selling our souls or gaslighting our guests to do it. Let’s Party!

Water Temps


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Well, if you haven’t heard, we have a little bit of a water temperature issue on Grey Reef. A couple of days ago BOTH turbines at Alcova Dam had issues and had to be shut down. What does this mean? The water now coming out of Alcova is coming off the spillway which is more or less surface lake water. Our guide crew has been diligent about taking temps and this is where we are currently at…64F-65F at Grey Reef Dam this morning. Yesterday afternoon temperatures at Lusby hit 70F. Our latest report says that they are expecting to have one turbine back up and running by early next week, which would immediately start drawing colder water off the bottom of Alcova. That should obviously start to lower the temperatures and put us back where we need to be.

GREY REEF: 2,200cfs. We advise only floating the upper and float early. Do not take fish out of the water for pictures. Fight them fast and keep them in the net. Minimize contact, please!

FREMONT CANYON: 82cfs and holding steady. Starting to see tricos in the morning and the fish are showing some interest.

MIRACLE MILE: Flows have reduced to 2,000cfs. We’ve hit the height of the golden stone hatch and adult numbers are slowly going down. Definitely getting a few on top but the fish seem to prefer a drowned adult or a Pat’s rubber legs. We are also seeing a good number of PMDs and the fish have been eating those as well.

Trending In The Right Direction


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Email us at: info@thereefflyshop.com

 

*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

We are finally starting to dry out a little in Central Wyoming. Thankful for the rain but happy to see a little more warmth and sunshine. We might be the only part of the country singing that tune right now. Flows, conditions and bugs are all trending in the right direction, so here’s to summer. The back half should be a good one!!

GREY REEF: Flows have bumped up to 2,000cfs and water conditions on the upper are good and improving a little everyday. We are hoping this bump will continue to help conditions downstream. Nymphing is staying consistent with more PMDs, sallies and caddis popping everyday. We are even seeing a hoppers hit the water and a few fish are starting to look up.

FREMONT CANYON: 82cfs and holding steady. Starting to see tricos in the morning and the fish are showing some interest.

MIRACLE MILE: Flows have reduced to 2,000cfs. We’ve hit the height of the golden stone hatch and adult numbers are slowly going down. Definitely getting a few on top but the fish seem to prefer a drowned adult or a Pat’s rubber legs. We are also seeing a good number of PMDs and the fish have been eating those as well.

Sweet, Sweet Summertime


***SHOP PHONE LINES ARE DOWN***

Email us at: info@thereefflyshop.com

 

*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

 

Well, it’s officially starting to feel like summer around here. After arguably the coolest and wettest start to a summer, we might actually be heating up this week. For the first time in 2023, we might hit 90F. Flows continue to hold steady on all three North Platte tailwaters. Conditions on Grey Reef continue to improve and we are starting to see some sallies and PMDs. We’ve even had a handful of our guides and guests pick up a few fish on hoppers. The golden stones are coming a little bit more into play on the Miracle Mile. Our crew has seen some adults and have been doing well on nymphs. We’ve managed to put a fair amount of water in reservoirs this spring and summer. At this point we have not heard as to when Grey Reef will see an increase in flows. As always, we will let you know if we hear anything!

GREY REEF: 1,000cfs. Fishable water from Grey Reef Dam to Government Bridge. Conditions are improving downstream and we are starting to float lower.

FREMONT CANYON: 80cfs. Mostly clear.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,800cfs. Clear. Road conditons to the Mile are dry but very rough in spots.

Welcome to June


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Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

Well, it’s been a pretty nice start to June. Cool, wet weather has made it pretty pleasant and Central Wyoming looks nothing short of spectacular. Green and wildflowers, the prairie is alive! Granted the wet weather pattern we seem to be in has messed with the lower river clarity, it sure is nice to see the reservoirs on the rise. As if the fishing hasn’t been good enough, we are really excited to see what the summer brings.

GREY REEF: 1,200cfs Grey Reef dropped down to 1,200cfs early this morning. A somewhat unexpected drop, we are nice and clear up top. We have fishable water from Grey Reef Dam to just upstream of Government Bridge. Our team expects conditions to improve if we can dodge the big thunderstorms. Grey Reef has been buggy! Baetis and midges, not gonna lie, it has been a whole lot of fun.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,775cfs Flows on the Miracle Mile continue to hold steady, we haven’t seen a move on flows in well over a month. Fishing has been good, not great but good. Road conditions have been impacted by the weather, so watch the radar.

FREMONT CANYON: 72cfs Low and clear. A little crowded as you would expect but fishing pretty well from what we are hearing from our customers.

What to fish? Leeches, worms(San Juan), reef worms, baetis and midge patterns. But we’re not too far out from PMD movement on Grey Reef and golden stones on the Miracle Mile, so…

After The Rain


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

After three days of light steady rain, this weeks forecast looks pretty nice. Temps in the 60s and 70s and relatively light winds. We do have a few days with thunderstorms set to build in the afternoon. Other than that, Central Wyoming is coming to life…the prairie is greening up nicely and the reservoirs are going up.

GREY REEF: 2,000cfs and holding steady. Water conditions are good from Grey Reef Dam to Government Bridge. Below there, its a little off-color but fishable to the Bates Creek confluence.

FREMONT CANYON: 72cfs, mostly clear, hazy green in color. Fishable.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,775cfs, clear.

Standard fare on our three tailwater; baetis, midges, leeches and worms are our top producers.

Bugs Popping


Things are shaping up and its actually starting to feel a little bit like spring! We’ve been fielding a lot of calls/emails regarding the conditions on the North Platte, so folks here’s a current conditions report for ya!

GREY REEF: 450cfs, mostly clear from Grey Reef Dam to just upstream of Government Bridge. After that is slightly off colored but still very fishable, green with 2′ of visibility. As of right now, you could fish your way into Casper. Baetis(BWOs) are popping! The low pressure/overcast days have been pretty magical if you ask us.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,800cfs, clear. With the low lake level, the Mile is fishable to Sage Creek and well beyond. Road conditions are good. The fishing has been so-so. From the sounds of it, you’re gonna work for ’em.

FREMONT CANYON: 75cfs, slightly off colored but very fishable. Fishing in Cardwell and Fremont has been average. Some bugs(baetis/midges) coming off, depending on the conditions.

Overall, things are pretty solid. Looks like we have some more moisture forecasted this week. Just a heads up, we are thinking Mile flows will only continue to go up as we make our way into summer. Grey Reef will probably be holding steady for the coming week, if we had to guess. With the current snowpack levels this could really be a fun year in our neck of the woods.

Flush is Finished


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Well, the spring flush has officially wrapped up. Flows on Grey Reef have gone back to 450cfs. At this point we do not have any information regarding the flows for Grey Reef later this spring and summer. As always, if we hear anything we will let you know. Currently Grey is is floatable and fishable downstream of Government Bridge. This is subject to change, especially this year with the amount of lingering snow drifts.

Miracle Mile? We have had guides at the Mile the past week and other than one 150yd stretch of Kortes Road, the getting around out there is relatively easy. Keep mind folks, we have some more wet weather on the horizon, so this is subject to change. As always, USE CAUTION when headed that direction.

It’s gradually starting to feel like spring and the fish are starting to act like it. With the flush in the rear view, the spawn is really going to fire up. PLEASE be considerate of the fish and don’t walk through the redds. It really is best if we leave the spawners alone.

Conditions, Flush and Fishing Report


Well we’ve reached the end of February and it feels like spring can’t come soon enough. As much as we fishermen and women hope for a long brutal winter, I’m sure the people of Wyoming are looking forward to a break in the cold and snowy weather. It won’t be long until the spring Baetis are popping, the sun is warm, and the fishing seems like it can’t get any better. Make sure to give the shop a call and get your spring trips on the books, we are already filling up fast!

This past week we saw one of the larger snow events of the winter. Roads were closed across the state and temperatures dove into the negatives with widespread blizzard conditions. Casper received over 12” of snow, the mountain got closer to 24”-30”, and Alcova even got a whopping 8”. One of our ranching friends out in Alcova expressed that he hasn’t seen a winter like this since the 70’s, so I’d say we aren’t going to struggle too much with water this year. Our snowpack is sitting at a healthy 124%, but we suspect this value will increase with temperatures projected to stay below freezing and more snow undoubtedly on the way. 

And now for what I’m sure many of you have been waiting for: the *Flush Update*. As far as we know the Bureau of Rec is calling for the flush to start March 10th. The flush is completely dependent on ice conditions on the river, so we suspect this date will get pushed back due to the last snap of cold weather, and especially looking at the ice shelves more towards Casper. Unfortunately, we aren’t top of the list in terms of information regarding the flush, but if I had to guess we are looking more at mid to late march at the earliest. We will obviously keep you all updated the moment we learn anything more. Wish we could give more of a definitive answer!

And finally, let’s go over current fishing conditions on the Reef, Mile, and in the Canyon. 

Grey Reef: 450cfs

Conditions: The Reef saw a significant increase in ice due to the storm we received this week. The top 2 miles below the dam are fishable, but watch out for extended ice shelves. Some runs  may still have too much ice to productively fish. As of right now we don’t have a report on the floatability from the Dam to Lusby, give the shop a call at (307)232-9128 before you pull the boat out, we should know within the next couple of days. The Bridge run is completely frozen over, and there is little to no open water from the bridge to East of Casper. 

Nymphs: Leeches (brown, natural, UV ), hot-head leeches (brown w/orange head, black w/chartreuse head), PALs, Rhinestones, Reef Worms, Mini Impalers, Black Mayhems, Black All Day Mays, Scuds of various colors. Target water directly off a shelf, the slow insides, and the deep tailouts. Rigs have been living at 4-5 feet with anywhere from 1-3 BBs.

Streamers: Kreelex, Rusty-T, Goldie, Thin Mint, Peacock Bugger, Olive/Tan Peanut Envy etc. Make sure to be using a sink tip or sinking line. The most productive retrieval has either been low and slow, or just on the swing through the slow insides and long tailouts. Fish are hugged on the bottom and need that streamer right in front of their face to get a reaction. 

Miracle Mile: 490cfs +/-

We have no current fishing conditions for the Mile. With the past snowfall Kortes road is extremely drifted over and we do not advise driving out there. For updated reports on the road conditions please don’t hesitate to call the shop. 

Fremont Canyon: 76cfs

Unfortunately both of the roads out to Fremont are pretty drifted in as well. One of our local Game and Fish biologist was unable to get to the canyon yesterday because the drifts got pretty bad. The closer to the canyon you get the deeper the drifts are. These should clear up sooner than the Mile road, and we should have a report on that in the coming week. At this time, we do not advise driving to Fremont. 

Well that’s all for our fishing report as of right now. This winter has been a rough one and your best bet is always to call the shop before venturing out especially when you’re looking to fish Fremont or the Mile. We are chomping at the bit to see what this season has in store for us, and we can’t wait to see everyone up here once the weather clears up. Tight lines folks!

 

Closer to Spring


It’s hard to believe we are already almost a full week into February.  Spring is going to be here before we know it!  After the last big snow/cold event, Central Wyoming has been on a little bit of a warming trend.  The past few days have delivered highs in the mid to high 30s but it looks like week ahead is going to cool down a touch and may have a few days of snow mixed in.

Here’s the updated conditions/fishing report for Grey Reef, Fremont Canyon and Miracle Mile…

Grey Reef: 450cfs 

Very clear from Grey Reef to Lusby, Floatable from Grey Reef to Lusby as of today.  Frozen in sections from Lusby to Casper.

Nymphs: Pine squirrel leech(brown or natural), Hot-head leech(black w/ chartruese head or brown w/ orange head), PAL, rhinestone, reef worm, mini impaler, all-day may(black), amber scud, grey scud.

Streamers: rusty-t, goldie, articulated goldie.

Fremont Canyon: 76cfs

Clear.  Road into the Canyon is icy in spots.

Nymphs: orange scud, amber scud, PAL, rhinestone, mayhem, brassie.

Dries: Griffiths gnat, para adams.

Miracle Mile: 535cfs +/- (We do not have any updated fishing report due to the driving conditions.  We would not advise driving from Alcova to the Miracle Mile at this time.)